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Jan 09, 2014 - 02:34 PM
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ERC Newsletter #02/14
Posted by: newsla on Jan 09, 2014 - 02:32 PM
WRC Rally News 2010
ERC Newsletter #02/14


KUBICA PRAISES ERC FOR PERFECT PREPARATION
Robert Kubica celebrated winning the FIA European Rally Championship season-opener in Austria last weekend by praising the ERC for helping to make him an even better rally driver.

 

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Formula One race winner Kubica used the 31 Int. Jännerrallye, Oberösterreich to practice for the upcoming Rallye Monte-Carlo, where he’ll begin his 13-round world championship campaign.

“Our priority was to get as much experience and information from this rally in order to prepare for Monte-Carlo,” said Kubica following the finish in the town of Freistadt. “I did participate in some ERC events last year but somehow I was a bit unlucky with too many mistakes. But practically I always used the ERC rallies as training for me and it was a bit the same here.”

Kubica was competing in a Ford Fiesta RRC run by the British M-Sport operation. The company’s Polish division was also present in Austria overseeing Kajetan Kajetanowicz’s challenge, which faltered when the four-time national champion crashed due to a jammed throttle pedal. Kajetanowicz had led after three stages.

GRÖNHOLM VISIT PROVES A HIT WITH FANS AND DRIVERS
Marcus Grönholm proved a star attraction when he attended the opening round of the 2014 FIA European Rally Championship in Austria last weekend.

The two-time world rally champion was working as an expert commentator for Eurosport on its coverage of the 31 Int. Jännerrallye, Oberösterreich. During his visit, the famous Finn spoke to several drivers to offer useful advice about driving on the ice-coated stages. Grönholm also spent time meeting fans and signing autographs.

A Q&A with Grönholm appears below.

HORSEPOWER OF A DIFFERENT KIND IN THE ERC
Four leading lights from the FIA European Rally Championship experienced horsepower of a different kind ahead of the 31 Int. Jännerrallye, Oberösterreich.

Andreas Aigner, Zoltán Bessenyey, Kajetan Kajetanowicz and Ekaterina Stratieva took time out of their preparations for the event when they visited the Pferdeeisenbahn Museum in Rainbach, a short distance from the event base in Freistadt.

The museum celebrates the famous horse-drawn railway that dates back to 1832 and was used by the Habsburgs to travel between Budweis/Ceske Budejovice in what is now Czech Republic and Linz-St Magdalena in Austria. During the visit, the quartet were transported by horse-drawn carriage and took part in a photoshoot attended by a number of journalists, photographers and camera crews.

FIA ACTION FOR ROAD SAFETY CAMPAIGN GETS ERC SUPPORT

The 12 priority drivers contesting the 31 Int. Jännerrallye Oberösterreich lent their support to the FIA Action for Road Safety campaign at a photocall in host town Freistadt prior to the ceremonial start.

This campaign focuses the federation's resources on helping its member organisations around the globe to educate and advocate for safer roads, vehicles and behaviours. It aims to lower the alarming figures associated with global road accidents and to spread the safer motoring message.

Central to the campaign are the 10 Golden Rules for Safer Motoring. A set of simple tips intended to help motorists improve their driving behaviour. These rules hope to assist motorists in reaching a golden standard of motoring and to remind them of their responsibilities to themselves, their passengers and all other road users.

THE CURRENT ERC ICE MASTER IS… ROBERT KUBICA!
He’s not only super-fast in a rally car he’s also the current ERC Ice Master! Robert Kubica’s stunning performance on the 31 Int. Jännerrallye, Oberösterreich has earned him another prestigious accolade.

Not only did the Polish hero claim victory on round one of the FIA European Rally Championship and secure the Colin McRae ERC Flat Out Trophy in the process, he also tops the ERC Ice Master standings following the inaugural event to qualify for the award.

In accordance with the revised scoring system, which awards ERC Ice Master points (10-6-4-2-1) to the fastest five drivers on each special stage of a designated ERC Ice Master event, Kubica heads the classification with 122 points to the 110 scored by Václav Pech. Raimund Baumschlager is third with 68 points, Beppo Harrach fourth on 44 points and Kajetan Kajetanowicz fifth on 36 points. Jaromír Tarabus, Andreas Aigner and Vasily Gryazin also scored ERC Ice Master points in Austria.

Along with the ERC Asphalt Master and ERC Gravel Master, the ERC Ice Master recognises surface specialists competing in the FIA European Rally Championship. Drivers have two more opportunities to score ERC Ice Master points: Rally Liepāja from 31 January-2 February and Sibiu Rally Romania from 27 February-1 March.

REGISTRATIONS ROLL IN FOR ERC JUNIOR CHAMPIONSHIP
The FIA ERC Junior Championship has welcomed its first competitors after Andrea Crugnola and Petter Kristiansen both signed up for the young-driver category.

A new initiative for 2014, the ERC Junior Championship is for drivers in R2-class cars only and consists of seven rounds starting with Rally Liepāja in Latvia at the end of January. The eventual champion will get selected ERC rallies in an R5 car in 2015 as his or her prize.

Crugnola, from Italy, and Kristiansen (pictured), from Norway, who are both 24, are highly rated in their respective countries. Several other drivers are close to announcing their ERC Junior Championship campaigns in the coming weeks. A copy of the application form is available by clicking here. To be eligible for ERC Junior Championship points on Rally Liepāja, competitors must enter by 15 January.

UPCOMING ERC WINTER RALLIES TAKE SHAPE
Preparations are continuing apace for rounds two and three of the FIA European Rally Championship, Rally Liepāja and Sibiu Rally Romania.

With six days to go until entries close for Rally Liepāja, organisers of the FIA European Rally Championship counter have already received 30 registrations for the Latvian winter showcase.

Meanwhile, earlier this week, ERC Sporting Manager Jean-Pierre Nicolas and ERC Co-ordinator Jean-Baptiste Ley carried out a route visit in Romania where they drive over part of the famous Transfăgărășan Highway (pictured), a mountain pass that will feature as part of the competitive route of the event for the first time.

Rally Liepāja takes place from 31 January-2 February with Sibiu Rally Romania running from 27 February-1 March.

Q&A: MARCUS GRÖNHOLM
The two-time world champion was in Austria last week working as an expert commentator for Eurosport on its coverage of the 31 Int. Jännerrallye, Oberösterreich, round one of the FIA European Rally Championship.

What brought you to Austria for the first round of the 2014 ERC season?
“Jean-Pierre Nicolas, my former boss when we were at Peugeot Sport, called me and asked me if I would like to do some work and have a look. I have never been here and I wanted to see how it looked so it’s a nice experience.”

As a former driver did you miss not competing last weekend?
“For me it’s much easier not to be driving when there are difficult conditions, having to fight for the final seconds. But it’s really good for the drivers for the learning, especially Robert Kubica.”

You mentioned Robert Kubica, how far can he go in the sport?
“It’s really difficult to predict but everything is possible. He needs time to learn but he has the speed, he just needs more experience.”

What else keeps you busy?
“Of course my job is running the shopping centre we have in Finland and all the things around this. Then we have a little bit of work in rallycross in the USA with a driver I help who is stepping up and there are sponsors involved. There are many other small things too, so I’m busy.”

The ERC Junior Championship starts on the next round in Latvia, what advice would you give a young driver looking to compete in this series?
“It’s a good opportunity to show the speed. Many of the drivers in the world championship have come from the ERC so it’s important to start in the ERC.”

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